The Metro Manila Film Festival in a capsule

Everybody loves watching movies. Aside from being a worthwhile form of entertainment, it’s also the most relaxing activity one can experience in the comforts of their own home or in a theater and anywhere where hi-tech gadgets are available. A venue for art imitating life and reality portrayed in various art forms, watching movies is still one of the best sources of cheaper entertainment there is.
In the Philippines, an annual film festival was created to highlight the holiday celebration in Manila. Originally tagged Metropolitan Film Festival, the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) showcases the cinematic artistry of Filipino film makers and actors. A gigantic parade of floats representing each participating movie officially opens the celebrated event that literally fills the city’s major thoroughfare s with enthusiastic spectators and avid movie fans.
Conceived in 1974 and implemented the following year by virtue of Metro Manila Commission Executive Order No. 86-09 pursuant to Presidential Proclamation Nos. 1459, 1485, 1533, 1533-A, and 1647, only locally produced films that are duly approved by a select body of jurors are shown during the entire festival season. The first MMFF, held on Sept. 21, 1975, was under former Manila councilor Mel Lopez who served as President Pro-Tempore of the City of Manila during Martial Law days. It was staged to to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the Marcos military government.
Participating movies and movie stars were honored for their creative excellence on the third day of the festival through a grand awards night as follows: Best Picture: JE’s Diligin ng Hamog Ang Uhaw na Lupa; Best Actor: Joseph Estrada (Diligin); Best Actress: Charito Solis (Araw-araw, Gabi-gabi); Best Supporting Actor: Vic Silayan (Diligin); Best Supporting Actress: Nida Blanca (Batu-bato Sa Langit); Best Director: Augusto Buenaventura (Diligin).
The seven films shown during the 1975 film fest were Kapitan Kulas (Ramon Revilla, Sr., Elizabeth Oropesa, and Helen Gamboa); Karugtong ng Kahapon (Vilma Santos and Edgar Mortiz); Alat (Tony Ferrer and Chanda Romero); Postcards From China (Dante Rivero, Pilar Pilapil and Boots Anson Roa); Siya’y Umalis…Siya’y Dumating (Nestor De Villa & Marlene Dauden); Batu-bato sa Langit (Nora Aunor and Christopher de Leon); Diligin ng Hamog and Uhaw na Lupa (Joseph Estrada and Gloria Diaz); and Araw-araw, Gabi-gabi (Charito Solis, Dindo Fernando, and Rosanna Ortiz).
Although often marred with petty scandals, unfounded anomalous allegations, and never-ending controversies, MMFF has eventually survived all negativities and has gone a long way since its founding. It will be recalled that in the MMFF 1977 Vilma Santos’ starrer Burlesque Queen won nine artistic awards including Best Actress but returned her trophy due to insurmountable allegations. Who could forget the infamous 1994 MMFF “Take it…Take it!” incident involving Ruffa Gutierrez, Ruffa’s younger brother Rocky, Gabby Concepcion, Miss Mauritius Viveka Babajee, Gretchen Baretto, and movie scribe Lolit Solis.
Refreshing the controversial scam to memory: Lolit Solis, who managed Ruffa, Gabby, Viveka, and Rocky, switched the results with a sleight of her hands for Best Actor and Best Actress that the presenters read Gabby Concepcion instead of Edu Manzano and Ruffa Gutierrez instead of Aiko Melendez, respectively.
Today, the 39th MMFF has seven entries namely: 10,000 Hours (Robin Padilla, Bella Padilla and Mylene Dizon); Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy (Vice Ganda and Maricel Soriano); Kimmy Dora: Ang Kyemeng Prequel (Eugene Domingo, Sam Milby, and Angel Aquino); Pagpag: Siyam na Buhay (Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla); My Little Bossings (Vic Sotto, Kris Aquino, Ryzza Mae Dizon and Bimby Aquino-Yap); Kaleidoscope World (Sef Cadayona and Yassi Pressman); and Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir (Rocco Nacino, Jestoni Alarco, and Ryan Eigenmann).
The seven official entries of this year’s MMFF were duly honored with a grand awards night last Friday, Dec. 27 at the Meralco Theater along Ortigas Avenue in Pasig City with a live telecast via TV5.
As usual, the recent result created much fuss and confusion with the usual unfounded allegations. A maddening fusion of silent protests and stentorian uproar among knowledgeable heads and film critics prevailed following the announcement of the winners in the major categories.
Earlier predicted to easily win the Best Actor award was Vice Ganda for his incredibly convincing quadruple characterizations in “Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy” and Eugene Domingo was easily favored for her dual portrayal of twin sisters in “Kimmy Dora:Ang Kyemeng Prequel.”
It’s beyond doubt how an excellent actress Maricel Soriano is or she won’t be tagged the Diamond Star for nothing. But her winning the Best Actress trophy raised eyebrows in dissatisfaction.
“Bestowing Maricel the plum award for a role short of the required full-length exposure and a characterization merely supporting the lead actor was a glaring oversight,” said veteran writer-columnist-director and kitchen wizard Ronald C. Carballo.
“Why entrust the judging to acebederians who knew nothing about film making? Why not relegate the festival to people in the film industry who are experts in the technical and aesthetic aspects of movie-making,”Carballo added.
Meanwhile, here’s a list of the 2013 MMFF awardees for creative excellence:
Best Picture: 10,000 Hours
Best Actor: Robin Padilla (10,000 Hours)
Best Actress: Maricel Soriano (Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomboy)
Best Supporting Actor: Pen Medina (10,000 Hours)
Best Supporting Actress: Aiza Seguerra (My Little Bossings)
Best Director: Bb. Joyce Bernal (10,000 Hours)
In the New Wave Full-length category, the following were honored:
Best Picture: Dukit
Best Director: Armando Lao (Dukit)
Best Actors: Wilfredo Layug, Bor Ocampo, and Bambalito Lacap (Dukit)
Best Actress: Agot Isidro (Mga Anino ng Kahapon)
Most Gender Sensitive Award: Island Dreams
Special Jury Prize: Mga Anino ng Kahapon
Other awards are:
New wave Student Short Film Most Gender Sensitive Film: Hintayin mo sa Seq. 24
New Wave Animation Best Picture: Kaleh & Mbaki
New Wave Animation Special Jury Prize: Ang Lalong ni Kulakog
The three top-grossers during the festival’s four-day period are: OctoArts-M-Zet’s My Little Bossings with 306.8 million, Star Cinema-Viva Films’ Girl, Boy, Bakla Tomboy with 256.9 million and Star Cinema-Regal Films’ Pag-Pag: Siyam na Buhay with 122.6 million.
PFS-Viva Films action-drama-thriller 10,000 Hours garnered a total of 14 awards out of the 22 at stake and two special awards: the Gatpuno Villegas Cultural Award and Fernando Poe, Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence. But despite all these, it still maintains its current fifth position with a total gross receipt of 66.5 million pesos on the fourth day. Usually, the film with the most awards, Best Picture, in particular, became instant hit after awards night and sadly, it failed to work this time.
Sadly, “Kaleidoscope World” suffered an initial slump at the box office and failed to survive even the first day of showing that it was pulled out from theaters leaving “Pedro Calungsod: Batang Martir” at the bottom with measly 3.5 million in total gross after four days.
The target box-office gross receipts of at least 900 million after showing by the festival organizers might be achieved with the on-going turn-out of movie-goers who became active again after a long period of lackadaisical patronage and theater hiatus.
The current movie-going public’s pulse isn’t easy to comprehend with regard to movie theme preferences. It’s only them who really know which film to patronize and no amount of persuasion could veer them elsewhere.
Incidentally, child phenomenon Ryzza Mae Dizon of Little Miss Philippines fame has incredibly established her mark in just a short time. My Little Bossings, her second film in the title-role she shared with James “Bimby” Yap, Jr., a newbie but already a celebrity in his own right, was consistently a box-office hit since day one. Her daily TV program, The Ryzza Mae Show over Channel 7, has effectively trained her to be the youngest, efficient, and smart TV host, putting to shame even some veterans in the trade. A born comedienne and entertainer, Ryzza’s punchlines are delivered in the right timing with adlibs that are unbelievably wordy from somebody her age. Far from the evanescent fad of grooming child stars, Ryzza Mae’s sterling popularity and smartness greatly contributed to the success of My Little Bossings.
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